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Super Mario RPG
|Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars|
North American box art depicts (from left to right) Bowser, Princess Toadstool, and Mario
|Platform(s)||Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars[a] is a role-playing video game (RPG) developed by Square and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1996. It is the first RPG in the Mario franchise, with major elements drawn from Square's RPG franchises and action-based gameplay reminiscent of the Super Mario series.
Super Mario RPG was directed by Yoshihiko Maekawa and Chihiro Fujioka and produced by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Yoko Shimomura composed the score, which was released on a soundtrack album in Japan. The story focuses on Mario and his party as they seek to eliminate Smithy, who has stolen the seven star pieces of Star Road. The game features five playable characters. It was not released in PAL regions such as Europe.
Super Mario RPG was well-received and particularly praised for its humor and 3D-rendered graphics; it appears on lists of the greatest video games of all time. It was followed by the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series, spiritual sequels which reuse some gameplay elements. Nintendo published Super Mario RPG to the Wii Virtual Console service in 2008 and the Wii U Virtual Console service in 2016. It was also re-released with the Super NES Classic Edition in 2017.
Super Mario RPG contains token similarities to other Square-developed video games, such as the Final Fantasy series, along with a story and gameplay based on the Super Mario Bros. series of platform games. Like most traditional JRPGs, there are two main sections to the game: adventuring and turn-based battle sequences. Much of Super Mario RPG's gameplay is outside monster battles and plays like an isometric 3D platformer, in which traditional Mario elements such as punching floating question blocks from below are prominent. There are no random encounters and as such enemies are visible in the field; a battle ensues only if Mario comes in contact with one. This allows the player to evade unnecessary battles.
The player controls only Mario at the journey's beginning. Ultimately, the player will gain a party of five characters, though only three members can be used during a battle at any given time. Mario is always in the player's party, but the other two characters can be selected before battles. Each of the five characters has a unique set of attacks and techniques. For example, Princess Toadstool's abilities are primarily healing techniques, whereas Geno and Bowser have offensive attacks that deal high amounts of damage. The combat is based on a traditional turn based battle system with the addition of action commands that amplify a move's effects. The player starts each turn by choosing to attack, defend, run, use an item, or perform magic from the combat menu. The action command consists of timed button presses during an attack, special move, defense, or item usage, which became a mainstay of later Mario RPGs.
Characters and setting
The game world is set in a geographically diverse land, which includes mountains, forests, and bodies of water. Each region has distinct characteristics held by its inhabitants; Mushroom Kingdom is inhabited by Toads, Moleville is inhabited by moles, Monstro Town is populated by reformed monsters, Yo'ster Isle is where Yoshi and his eponymous species reside, and Nimbus Land is an area inhabited by cloud people. Bowser's Castle is another prominent location in the game, as it holds the portal to the main antagonist's home world.
As in most Mario series games, the main protagonist is Mario, whose initial goal is to rescue Princess Peach (Toadstool) from Bowser. However, the story takes on an unusual and very important twist. Soon after the start of his journey, the Smithy Gang invades the world. While attempting to stop the group, Mario is joined by Mallow, a cloud boy who thinks he is a tadpole; Geno, a doll possessed by a celestial spirit from the Star Road; Bowser, whose armies have deserted him out of fear of the Smithy Gang; and Princess Toadstool, who was lost in the turmoil that occurred when the Smithy Gang arrived. The Smithy Gang is led by Smithy, a robotic blacksmith from an alternate dimension with aspirations of world domination.
Mario sets out to rescue Princess Toadstool, infiltrating the castle to which she has been taken and challenging kidnapper King Bowser. During the battle, a giant living sword named Exor falls from the sky, breaks through the Star Road (a pathway that helps grant people's wishes), and crashes into Bowser’s castle, sending Mario, Princess Toadstool, and Bowser flying in different directions, as well as scattering the seven star fragments. Mario lands back at his pad and meets up with Toad, who tells him he has to rescue Toadstool. Mario returns to Bowser's castle, but Exor destroys the bridge, preventing him from entering. Mario makes his way to the Mushroom Kingdom, where Mario encounters a "tadpole" named Mallow who has set out to retrieve a frog coin taken by the local thief Croco. After Mario helps him retrieve the frog coin, they return to the Mushroom Kingdom to find that it is overrun by the Smithy Gang, followers of the evil robotic blacksmith king named Smithy. Mario and Mallow enter the castle to defeat gang boss Mack, and subsequently find a mysterious Star Piece. Mallow accompanies Mario to Tadpole Pond so they can get advice from Frogfucious, Mallow's grandfather. He reveals that Mallow is not really a tadpole, and says Mallow should join Mario on a quest to find the seven Star Pieces as well as Mallow's real parents.
The duo travel to Rose Town where they meet a star spirit who has taken control of a silent doll named Geno. After battling the bow-like creature Bowyer, who is immobilizing residents of Rose Town with his arrows, they retrieve another Star Piece. Geno joins Mario and reveals to him the Star Piece is a part of the shattered Star Road, where he normally resides. Geno has been tasked with repairing Star Road and defeating Smithy, so that the world's wishes may again be heard. The trio eventually head to Booster Tower (the home of the eccentric amusement-venue owner, Booster), where they encounter Bowser, whose minions have all bailed out on him. They join forces to fight a common enemy, as Bowser wishes to reclaim his castle. The new team intercepts Princess Toadstool just before she is forcibly married to Booster, but it turns out that the wedding wasn't real and that Booster only wanted the wedding cake.
After her rescue, the princess returns home to Mushroom Kingdom only to then decide to join the party while her grandmother takes her place in disguise. After gathering five star pieces, they search Nimbus Land. A statue maker informs them that Valentina has the rulers of Nimbus Land being held captive, and her sidekick Dodo is impersonating the prince. Dodo would make Valentina his queen. The statue maker recognizes Mallow as the true prince, then disguises Mario as a statue to infiltrate the castle. There they defeat Valentina and Dodo. The newly liberated king and queen, Mallow's parents, inform the group that they saw a star fall into the nearby volcano.
After traveling to Barrel Volcano to obtain the 6th Star Piece, Mario's party learns that the final piece must be held by Smithy in Bowser's castle. They battle their way through the assembled enemies to enter the castle, where they discover that Exor is actually a gateway to Smithy's factory, the place Smithy mass-produces his army. Mario and company cross over, find the heart of the factory, and defeat Smithy, thereby stopping his army creation and causing Exor to disappear. The collected Star Pieces are used to repair the Star Road, Geno returns to the Star Road, Bowser rebuilds his castle with his newly reformed army, Mallow regains his rightful title as prince of Nimbus Land, and Mario and Princess Toadstool return to the Mushroom Kingdom to celebrate their victory.
Yoshio Hongo of Nintendo explained the game's origins: "Square's RPGs sold well in Japan but not overseas. There have been calls from all ages, and from young girls, for another character to which they could become attached. Mario was the best, but had not been in an RPG. Nintendo's director, Mr. Miyamoto also wanted to do an RPG using Mario. There happened to be a chance for both companies to talk, which went well."
Development began in earnest during the second quarter of 1995. The game was officially unveiled by both Mario creator and producer Shigeru Miyamoto and co-director Chihiro Fujioka at the 1995 V-Jump Festival event in Japan. Miyamoto led teams at Nintendo and Square, who spent over a year developing the graphics. The story takes place in a newly rendered Mushroom Kingdom based on the Super Mario Bros. series. Square reported that the game was about 70% complete in October 1995. The developers created the interior elements such as columns, stairways, and exterior elements with advanced computer modeling techniques. Special lighting effects were used to create shadows and reflections that were meant to improve the 3D elements. With guidance from Miyamoto, Square developed the game, combining role-playing aspects of previous Square games like Final Fantasy VI with the platforming elements of Nintendo's games. Square's Final Fantasy series was the model for the battle sequences, while the tradition of Super Mario Bros. games demanded a lot of action. Mario's ability to jog in eight directions and jump up or down in three–quarter perspective gave him a (comparatively) large range of motion. At 70% completion, the mix of adventure and action game play elements placed it in a category closer to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
When Nintendo of America received a 60% complete version in November, the staff were surprised at the inclusion of an RPG battle system. The battle screens, using pre-rendered sprites as in the rest of the game, included attack animations of equipped weapons. In December, further development and improvements to the gameplay delayed the translation of the game. For example, the Chancellor, who was named the Mushroom Retainer in Japan, was called the "Minister" in North America. Plans continued through February for the North American version, changing the release date forecast from winter to spring.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is one of only seven SNES games released outside Japan to use the Nintendo SA-1 chip. Compared with standard SNES games, the additional microprocessor allows these features: higher clock speeds; faster access to the random-access memory (RAM); greater memory mapping capabilities, data storage, and compression; new direct memory access (DMA) modes, such as bitmap to bit plane transfer; and built-in CIC lockout for piracy protection and regional marketing control. It was not released in PAL regions such as Europe; Nintendo representatives cited the need to optimize the game for PAL televisions and translate it into multiple languages.
Yoko Shimomura, best known for her previous work in Street Fighter II, composed the game's music. As part of the score, she incorporated arrangements of music by Koji Kondo from Super Mario Bros. and three tracks by Nobuo Uematsu from Final Fantasy IV. Shimomura regards the Super Mario RPG soundtrack as one of the turning points in her career as a composer. The music from the game was released as a soundtrack album, titled Super Mario RPG Original Sound Version (スーパーマリオＲＰＧ オリジナル・サウンド・ヴァージョン). NTT Publishing released it in Japan on March 25, 1996. The two-disc set contains 61 of the game's 73 songs.
Super Mario RPG received positive reviews and appeared on reader-selected "best game of all time" lists, such as 26th on GameFAQs and 30th at IGN. Japanese audiences received Super Mario RPG well with 1.47 million copies sold, making it the third highest-selling game in Japan in 1996. Its sales in the United States surpassed Nintendo's expectations. For the game's release in the middle of May 1996, the company shipped 300,000 units to retailers; Nintendo estimated sell-through of more than 200,000 units within one month on shelves. A company representative said that "the title is on track to easily exceed our 500,000 target, and it may easily become a one million seller by the end of this calendar year". By August 24, it had been the most-rented game in the United States for 14 weeks straight.
Super Mario RPG received positive reviews. Though various aspects of Super Mario RPG received mixed reviews, it garnered praise for its graphics and for humor in particular. Nintendo Power's review commented that the "excellent" 3D graphics helped the game appeal to a much wider audience than most traditional RPGs. In March 1997, Nintendo Power nominated the game for several awards, including "Best Graphics", in a player's choice contest, though Super Mario 64 won "Best Graphics". Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the graphics, stating that they are "the best seen on the Super NES". Scary Larry of GamePro gave the game a perfect 5/5 in all four categories (graphics, sound, control, and FunFactor), and praised the rendered enemies, cinematics, and spell animations.
1UP.com stated that the graphic element is "strong enough to resemble a Mario title but still retains the role-playing theme at the same time", and Electronic Gaming Monthly commented that the visuals are "typical of Nintendo, using clean and colorful graphics along with nice animation". RPGamer editor Derek Cavin called the backgrounds "beautiful" and stated that they "perfectly bring the Mushroom Kingdom and surrounding areas into 3D". Skyler Miller from Allgame stated that the graphics are "absolutely outstanding, with colorful, 3D rendered visuals that once seemed impossible on the Super NES. This is definitely the high watermark for 3D graphics on any 16-bit system". The editor also called the music "quite extraordinary" and that the songs "match the mood of the surrounding environment". In the Virtual Console re-release, IGN's Lucas Thomas's review of Super Mario RPG stated that the game's experience "completes itself with a compelling story, a humorous attitude and a variety of interspersed mini-games that break up the adventuring action". The publication also stated that the soundtrack is "spectacular and a joy to listen to" and the graphics "took full advantage of the system's 16-bit technology and looks great".
Despite the praise, Cavin said that most of the battle system mechanics "aren't very original" and also criticized the "lack of a unified storyline". In contrast, a reviewer for Next Generation found the battle system refreshingly broke from tradition, and was pleased that "the elements that stand out from the traditional formula are those that make this a recognizable Mario game." He wrote that the gameplay was complex enough to challenge even veteran RPG gamers, yet simple enough to not alienate newcomers to the genre. Scary Larry similarly said the game "should please diehard RPG fans as well as novice players", as it is genuinely tough and offers considerable replay value in the form of sidequests and bonus features such as Toadofsky's music levels. He also found Squaresoft's signature humor and puzzle-solving to be as exceptional as usual. Miller commented that after engaging in many battles, "the battle music becomes monotonous" and that after the game is beaten, "There aren't any surprises to be discovered the second time around". While 1UP.com stated that "The characters seem too childish for older gamers", Next Generation said the game is "held together by the strength of its characters and well-developed world."
Electronic Gaming Monthly editors named Super Mario RPG a runner-up for both Super NES Game of the Year (behind Tetris Attack) and Role-Playing Game of the Year (behind Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain). It was voted the 26th best game of all time by GameFAQs readers and 30th by IGN readers.
Super Mario RPG does not have a direct sequel. Nintendo originally announced a game titled Super Mario RPG 2, which was renamed to Paper Mario before release, and is considered to be the thematic and spiritual successor. The RPG-themed Mario series, Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi, follow conventions established in the original. This includes the use of Flower Points as a shared party resource instead of each character having their own pool of Magic Points, timed action commands during battles, and, in the original Paper Mario, the collection of the seven stars. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga features a Geno doll and the end credits state "SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD" reserves the copyright to the character; this cameo was removed from the game's Nintendo 3DS remake. Various locations and characters from the game appear in the children's book Mario and the Incredible Rescue released by Scholastic in 2006.
Super Mario RPG was released on Virtual Console for Wii in Japan on June 24, 2008. It was released for the first time in Europe and Australia on August 22, 2008 on Virtual Console for Wii, as part of the third Hanabi Festival (a period in which several games not previously available in Europe are released on the Wii's Virtual Console). It was released on Virtual Console for Wii in North America on September 1, 2008, with the distinction of being the 250th Virtual Console game released in that region. Super Mario RPG was released on Virtual Console for Wii U in Japan on August 5, 2015, in Europe and Australia on December 24, 2015, and in North America on June 30, 2016. In the Virtual Console releases, the Flame Wall and Static E! attacks were dimmed to reduce the potential for triggering sensitive players' seizures, and colors were adjusted.
On December 16, 2015, Geno became a downloadable Mii Fighter costume in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Super Mario RPG was included among the 21 preinstalled titles on the Super NES Classic Edition in all regions. The console was released in September 2017.
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